Exercise – Better Than Drugs For Depression
The Value of Exercise
Here’s some pretty awesome scientific information on the value of exercise, not just for maintaining a healthier body but also a healthier mind.
Depression is apparently on the rise (if you believe the media and associated pharmaceutical marketing campaigns) and the go-to treatment is ordinarily to medicate using drugs like Bupropian, Citalopram or Duloxetine – drugs that have serious side-effects including anxiety, shaking, severe headaches, seizures, severe skin reactions, jaundice, high fevers, blood pressure fluctuations, cardiac arrhythmia, and even sudden death.
In scientific studies conducted between 1999 and 2009 comparing groups of people who regularly exercise with those who were medicated using the current medication procedures, the effectiveness of exercise in overcoming depressive symptoms was found to be as effective as medication.
That’s a big statement.
What’s more, people who continue to exercise regularly have lower rates of depressive relapse in the future than people using medication.
How Much Exercise Kills Depression?
Even modest levels of exercise are beneficial. Three sessions per week of 30 to 45 minutes per session is sufficient (according to these studies) to reduce depression and 90 minutes a week is sufficient to reduce the risk of relapse.
Most of the studies focused on aerobic exercise (running, walking, swimming, dancing, skipping, anything that will raise the heart rate and can be done for an extended period of time) up to 30 or 45 minutes at a time. Several also found evidence that resistance training (using free weights, machines, body weight, bands and so on) is also beneficial.
So, if you’re feeling down, save yourself some money and a lot of life-threatening side-effects and start exercising – it’s way healthier than putting artificial and potentially dangerous chemicals into your body.
Join a gym, hire a good trainer, take some exercise classes, start taking the dog or your kids for walks. Whatever it takes to get you moving and active for at least 90 minutes a week (that’s about as long as most people spend watching TV in one night).
Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Moore KA, Craighead WE, Herman S, Khatri P, et al. Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. Ach. Intern Med. 1999;159(19):2349-56.
Drum AL, Trivedi MH, Kampert JB, Clark GC, Chambliss HO. Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response. Am J Prev Med. 2005:28(1):1-8.
Mead GE, Morely W, Campbell P, Greig CA, McMurdo M, Lawler DA. Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009(3):CD004366.